Spring is finally here... unwelcome news for millions of allergy sufferers. While medicine is a solid first line of defense, consider adding these foods to your arsenal to keep the worst symptoms at bay.

The arrival of spring after a long and cold winter is nothing short of wonderful, but for so many of us, spring also signals the beginning of an aggravating allergy season.

If you are one of the 20 million Americans who suffer from allergies this time of year, you are all too familiar with the coughing, congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, or runny nose that trees and pollen can bring.

Outdoor triggers are not the only culprits when it comes to allergy symptoms. We may not realize it, but what we eat can also play a pretty big role, and sticking to the right foods just might help us get some relief.

What causes an allergy attack?

When all goes right, histamine is a helpful molecule within our body that sends messages between cells and works with our immune system to protect us from invaders.

For some people, when confronted with an allergy, the immune system goes into overdrive, prompting the release of too much histamine in an effort to fight it off. The result? Those pesky allergy symptoms that we come to dread.  

This is why antihistamine medicine can be so effective during the spring season - it works to block the histamine action in your body when faced with an allergen.

Paying attention to your food may help you find seasonal allergy relief

During the spring when allergens circulate in the air, our body can mistake the protein in certain foods for pollen, which can amp up an already hypersensitive immune system to spring into attack mode.

Which foods to look out for? If grass pollen is your allergen, avoid tomatoes, oranges, melons, and figs. If you are allergic to weed pollen, hold back from eating bananas, cucumbers, zucchini, melon, and artichokes.

Instead, snack on these foods this spring which are all known to alleviate allergy symptoms.

Pineapple. The enzyme bromelain found in the pineapple is a natural allergy reliever, acting as a decongestant due to its powerful anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties.

Onions. Onions are high in quercetin, an antioxidant known for its anti-viral, anti-allergic, and histamine-blocking activity. Quercetin is also found in broccoli, apples, and grapes, but raw red onion contains the most.

Ginger. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties are well-documented, an effect that comes in handy for reducing irritation and swelling in the eyes and nose during allergy season.

Liquids. Drinking plenty is important year-round, but especially so during spring allergy season when we are prone to feeling congested. Drinking warm water or sipping on broth can help break up mucus and soothe irritated airways. Beware of herbal teas which are themselves made of plants that may cross-react with plant pollen.

Vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C is probably best known as an antioxidant immunity booster, but a little known fact is that it is also a natural antihistamine, cutting down on the body’s histamine response and reducing allergic symptoms. Reach for citrus fruits, broccoli, and berries, all foods high in vitamin C.